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From a reading of Jane Austen's short stories what do we learn about women's lives in the late eighteenth century?

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Introduction

From a reading of Jane Austen's short stories what do we learn about women's lives in the late eighteenth century? Jane Austen's collection of short stories, "Love & Friendship", give a developed insight into the lives of women of the "genteel" society in the late eighteenth century. The stories, written in epistolary describe the characteristics and mannerisms that were true to women of this particular time period. The letters, exchanged between friends, illustrate the main aspects of life familiar to Jane Austen and women of a similar class to herself. She incorporates her personal opinion into the stories by demonstrating techniques such as tactful humour and undisputed irony of the lifestyle that surrounded her, day after day; thus provoking her to use satire and exaggeration to portray the lives of women as shallow, vein and pre occupied by insignificant priorities. It is evident that marriage is a vitally important and significant part of women's lives in the late eighteenth century to the point of being almost obsessive. Mary displays her view early on in the first letter by writing, "I hardly know how to value it enough". Marriage is rarely the result of a loving relationship but because women of this era are solely dependant on their husbands and fathers; therefore their lives are forced to revolve around marriage. ...read more.

Middle

However the future for most girls was completely out of their hands, their mothers would usually plan every aspect of their life, until they married and their husband would replace them as the main figure of authority in their life. A mother would organise her daughters' introduction into public, which would be undisputable, "Tomorrow Mr Stanly's family will meet them, on Tuesday we shall pay morning visits, on Wednesday we are to dine at Westbrook," and so on. The mother also seems to have a strong input in the decision of who her daughters shall marry, as Mrs Stanhope expresses adamantly, "If Mary won't have him Sophy must, and if Sophy won't Georgiana shall." This gives the reader a sense that women's choices in life were very limited and most decisions were made for them. Jane Austen portrays the lot of a married woman to seem quite unappealing and not particularly enjoyable. Mr Watts for example makes it clear that none of Mary's wish's, no matter how affordable they may be, will not be granted and she will have no rights within the marriage, "You had better discard them before you marry, or you will be obliged to do it afterwards." There is no sign on an equal partnership in the marriage. It is debatable whether marriage makes women happy, however if it does succeed in doing so it is for the wrong reasons. ...read more.

Conclusion

The reader cannot help buy smile at the language used to exaggerate how ridiculous and over the top Louisa sounds. This characteristic is a result of women's restrainment from the real world and issues around them. Austen uses the language and techniques in the stories to shock and warm others in a similar position to step back and take an overview of their own lives before they become the next Mary Stanhope or Louisa Lutterell. The general image of women's lives in the late eighteenth century has been depicted as shallow and vein with petty priorities. Their lives are pre-occupied with marriage for the wrong reasons, they are not given a proper education, their status is one of the most important aspects of their life, friendships are false and usually have a hidden agenda and women are so concealed from the world around them that they have no real understanding of emotions. Consequently, their personality is quite understandable reflecting the way they have been bought up and the life they have been born into. Jane Austen's use of witty humour and sharp wit, exaggerating the characteristics of women in this time period, not only makes very enjoyable reading but gives the reader a good impression of her own opinion and attitude to women's lives. ?? ?? ?? ?? Georgi Cameron ...read more.

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